Over the past 50 years there's been an endless barrage of misinformation and propaganda against eating fat. Although old belief systems die hard, we know now that cholesterol and saturated fats do not cause heart disease. Because dietary fat still has so much stigma surrounding it, lets blow the lid off of the fat myths and set the record straight once and for all!
First of all, saturated fat doesn't cause heart disease and cancer. The fact is, we've been duped for many years into believing eating saturated fat was going to kill us. One of the reasons is that we've seen an epidemic rise of chronic diseases in that same time period. People are told to consume "heart-healthy" industrial seed oils like canola, vegetable, soybean and corn oil, instead of "evil" saturated fats. A study conducted by Harvard University showed that eating more saturated fats prevented the progression of heart disease. Additionally, a second Harvard study showed a high-fat diet consisting of saturated fats in meat and dairy products actually had a threefold decrease in type II diabetes! There's no doubt that good saturated fats are lacking in the standard Western diet. These good fats are essential for our overall health.
So what kinds of fats should you be eating? It's a complicated issue, because you can actually turn good fats into bad fats with improper cooking.
Many people pick a great fat to cook with, but unintentionally turn it into a bad one by oxidizing the fat, causing inflammation in the body. Using olive oil to fry foods is a good example of this. It's important to read the smoking points of the oils you are using, but here is a great list to understand fats:
Saturated: For high heat.
These fats can tolerate higher heat temperatures without becoming oxidized. Buy organic, unrefined forms, from grass-fed sources if animal based.
- Coconut oil
- Palm oil
- Animal Fat (beef, lamb, chicken, pig)
- Eggs, meat, and seafood
- Full-fat dairy
Unsaturated: For cold uses.
Unsaturated fats can be easily damaged and oxidized when heat is applied to them, turning a healthy fat into an inflammatory, unhealthy one. Buy organic, extra virgin and cold pressed.
- Avocado oil
- Macadamia nut oil
- Nuts and seeds (including nut and seed butters)
- Olive oil
- Sesame oil
- Walnut oil
Don't eat these: Unhealthy man-made fats and refined seed oils aren't recommended. These oils are highly processed or will oxidize easily with light, air, or heat exposure.
- Margarine or butter-like spreads
- Canola oil
- Corn oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Rice bran oil
- Safflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Sunflower oil
- Vegetable oil
So stop fearing fat! Just be smarter with your choices, and eat what makes your body feel great.
I've written extensively on MindBodyGreen about this topic before, so if you'd like to read more, those links would be a good place to start.
Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian,The Inflammation Spectrum, and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.